October 22, 2020
When it comes to digital transformation having a qualified implementation partner at your side is always beneficial. That partner becomes essential for businesses that want to pursue a transition to a MACH technology architecture. In this insight, Valtech and one of our partners, Contentstack, combine our experiences of MACH implementations to share with you the top criteria that businesses must consider when selecting a MACH implementation partner.
What is MACH?
MACH is a new breed of technology built on four main pillars: microservices-based, API-first, cloud-native, and headless.
This type of technology structure allows companies to construct ever-evolving digital experiences with instruments that are modular, pluggable, and scalable.
Why Go MACH?
MACH architecture enables you to create a technology stack made up of exactly the tools you need when you need them in addition to the possibility of replacing them once they no longer are applicable or have become outdated. Microservices help cut development lead times by 75%.
MACH technology is, by definition, simply extendable. That means, with MACH, your business can use sturdy APIs to easily combine all of your technologies with any new tools (for example personalization engines) or new channels.
And because MACH technologies are always up-to-date due to their cloud-first nature, they don't require expensive and time-consuming upgrade cycles which reduces the total cost of ownership.
Why it's important to have a strong partner for your MACH Transformation
Upgrading to MACH architecture requires expertise. That goes both for the initial switch as well as the ongoing, company-wide transformation that switching to MACH often entails.
For this very reason, it is sensible for businesses to cooperate with service providers who are experienced in the implementation and operation of MACH.
The right MACH partner will not only provide the appropriate people at your side (or the skills to find the required talent) to get your implementation up and running, but can also assist in designing and deploying a solid base for your business and advise your team on an ongoing basis.
Advice on choosing the best technology partner for your MACH implementation
Keep these six tips in mind when looking for the best technology partner to implement MACH in your organization.
Search for results, not time spent
First things first: You want a MACH implementation partner who gives priority to a results-oriented commitment - not just a bundle of hours for a single-dimensional implementation and an ongoing service and support agreement.
To find out the likelihood of a potential partner delivering actionable results for both you and your customers, you can begin by looking at their prior MACH technology implementations.
Start by asking for case studies that will give you an idea of the companies' proven track record in delivering results. Think about contacting past customers and looking for reviews in blogs, review websites, and even social media.
Strive for complementary skills that define the overall engagement
In addition to the technology expertise that goes with a MACH implementation, there are certain attributes that a partner must possess to ensure the success of your transformation.
"In my opinion, one of Valtech's strengths lies in both the technical delivery of services directly related to content stack and what I call 'soft skills' that are critical to the overall engagement: Customer experience strategy, data science, content, etc.," says Peter Fogelsanger, Contentstack's Global Head of Partnerships.
"When you switch to MACH, it's about much more than just replacing your CMS. It must be strategic and agile, and it must fit with the rest of the stack."
"It's like building a house. You can learn how to do it yourself, but it's nice to have a partner who can actually guide you through things like putting together your internal teams to support MACH."
If you are switching to MACH, the easiest approach is to do it with an implementation specialist who will guide you through your digital switchover every step of the process, even when it comes to the less technical aspects.
Finding cultural alignment
Having an implementation partner that fits your culture is a priority when making the move to MACH.
For instance, Valtech and Contentstack's MACH implementation efforts have consistently been so rewarding because both companies are culture-matched. Both are part of the MACH Alliance, both are dedicated to helping companies make a MACH future, and the end user experience is a priority for both parties.
"One of the things that has made our partnership strong is that both organizations are focused on the customer experience," says Matthew Morey, Senior Vice President of Technology at Valtech.
"It may sound clichéd, but many service providers only bill by the hour and many software companies are only results-oriented. We're both interested in ensuring that the end user achieves a desired KPI or improves their ability to do a particular job".
When you coordinate with your service provider, you are on the same page when it comes to setting and meeting goals throughout the MACH transformation. This is a formula for a successful team and, ultimately, for successful customers.
Participate in a paid proof of concept project
Boilerplate demonstrations of specific MACH applications do not give you a complete picture of how an enterprise-wide implementation will work for your organization. And just talking to an agency or observing their pitch is not the same as actually working with one.
Instead, when choosing a MACH implementation partner, consider taking on a small but paid proof-of-concept project. This financial investment means that your internal stakeholders will become more involved and give you a clearer idea of what it is like to work with the implementation partner of your choice when real results (and resources) are at stake. Your paid proof-of-concept project does not have to be a loss. If it's well chosen - and your partner can help you - you may end up with a useful piece of code or even a start on a product you can later build into something suitable for customer use.
A further reason to spend money on a paid proof-of-concept project is that you'll probably be working with the team you'll be paired up with to orchestrate a full MACH implementation - giving you another opportunity to learn how your cultures are aligned.
Fortunately, building a paid proof of concept project with MACH doesn't have to be a painstaking process. Thanks to the ease with which MACH technology can be paired, projects can be up and running in weeks - not months - when teams are aligned around goals and prioritized outcomes.
Monolithic, on-premise systems do not provide this capability in the same way that modern cloud-based solutions do. Take advantage of this.
Tracking the Boundary Pushers
The partnership between Valtech and Contentstack works because both parties are boundary pushers.
Valtech is always happy to implement emerging experiences with the Contentstack platform - which itself pushes boundaries in the world of headless content management.
Recently, we worked together on a challenge for which there was no blueprint (a content-rich augmented reality experience) and move the frontiers to create our own. The augmented reality demo we built in less than a month - Project Spyglass - was only possible by the MACH pillars and because both partners were committed to questioning the status quo.
Partner up on prioritizing Innovation
As farewell wisdom often is, our last advice is a bit philosophical.
In the words of Pascal Lagarde, Valtech's Vice President for Commerce in Europe, "... don't focus on features. Focus on vision; direction."
Rather than focusing on the specific characteristics or solutions a potential partner is currently working with, you should consider whether they have the same overall philosophical vision as your company.
MACH technology is constantly evolving and improving. Companies and implementation specialists without a philosophy that prioritizes innovation will never make it in a MACH future.
You need to make sure you agree with your implementing partner that a composable architecture is the future of enterprise technology. And you need to be sure that they are ready to go on a journey of continuous innovation with you, not just sell you a one-time solution.